Recently I have been listening to a certain album, some music by a band called Hillsong. I really don’t know much about the band, and I really don’t need to for this story to make sense. Anyway, here begins a birthday story, leading into my birthday message:
When I was younger, when I had my first car, I had a cassette tape that I never really told anyone about at the time. I don’t know where the cassette came from, it had to have been copied since it was a battered, generic looking tape. For nearly a year, whenever I drove in my car, I would listen to this tape.
Play side A.
Play side B.
Play side A.
Play side B.
On and on and on, it never stopped unless someone else was in the car, which is another story for another time.
I found the tape about a year ago, looking at how abused it was reminded me how much I had listened to it. I was not able to play it, my cassette player being mildly broken, and my wallet being mildly empty to buy a cassette player for one lonesome tape. So, with a tinge of regret, and trying to remember exactly what was on the tape that I would listen to it so much, I placed it securely back in it’s box.
Fast forward (no pun in ten did) to last week: I was looking around on my now outdated mp3 player, seeing what albums I had which I have not listened to in a long time. I found a band called Hillsong, an untitled album, and songs with no track names. When I listened to this album, my heart stirred in me, remembering the songs on that old cassette that I had sung in my youth. This album, unknown by name to me and a little different than the old, I have listened to at least twice a day for the last three or so days.
Let me be clear on something: I am not usually fond of repetitious songs. I get cynical of churches that sing the “Off the wall, 7-11″ songs, as I have called them, singing seven words eleven times. Neither am I usually very fond of highly emotional songs. Call me a cynic if you want, the Lord knows I am, but I have a basic distrust of “those” types of songs.
Let me be clear on one more thing: This album has several repetitious songs, this album is filled with emotional songs, and I like this album.
One song in particular I would like to draw your attention to, a song somewhere toward the end, where the words are “Holy, Holy, Holy God.” and that is all. But you must hear this in your mind, for this is a live concert, and there are thousands of people there, all of them singing loudly praising the Lord.
And the instruments stop playing.
And the singer stops singing.
And the people keep singing:
“Holy, Holy, Holy God! Holy, Holy, Holy God! Holy, Holy, Holy God!”
How beautiful are the voices of these people, praising God with their voices! How passionately they cry out, “Holy God!”
And every time I hear it I am reminded of the verses in Revelations 5:
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. … In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them, singing: “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
Think of it! We will be singing praise to the Lord God, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of Christians together, with Him there before us, we will sing “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
Friends, this is what I want to tell you on my 25th birthday:
I have never been more sure in my life of the sovereignty of God, of His complete authority, of His everlasting justice, of His grace to the lost, and of the beauty of His Holiness.
I have had trials, I have had terrible failures of sin, I have forsaken God in my weakness, and I have called out against Him. And still my Savior reaches out and grabs my unwilling hand, still my Lord and God forgives before I even call to Him, and even now my Father loves me with the love beyond all loves.
I know a few of you are struggling with sin, who have even given up the fight as I myself once did. I tell you this: I have never before been so sure of the power of Christ to break the bonds of sin if we call out to Him who alone has that power.
I have friends who have lost their worldly possessions. Friends who are living with abusive parents. Friends who are even now watching family members die before their eyes. And I have friends who have lost faith in Gods good graces. But please listen to me now.
This is my only message, on this my 25th birthday:
Do not turn to any other than God to satisfy your heart, to free you from the bonds of sin, to bring you joy, and to give you true peace. Forsaking all else, cling and cling to Christ. Don’t be satisfied with what you have now, but take hold of the promise written in Psalms 107:
Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and He fills the hungry soul with goodness.
Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons — because they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the Most High, therefore He brought down their heart with labor; they fell down, and there was none to help.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of bronze, and cut the bars of iron in two.
These are promises you can hold right now. This is real hope.